The Monday Survival Guide

The Monday Survival Guide

Do you hate Mondays? Has “Monday Sucks” become your mantra? 

Most people experience feelings of discomfort and distress as Monday approaches. These feelings typically sneak up on you during Sunday evening and can sometimes linger until you leave work Monday afternoon.

Does it have to be this way? Is “Monday Sucks” a physical law of the universe?

Of course not.

Mondays suck because you allow them to. If you fall into something like a minor depression every Monday, then you need to do something about it. Consider the following quote:

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Albert Einstein

If you don’t take action and bring on a change, chances are you will continue to suffer every Monday for the rest of your life.

If you live to see your 80th birthday, that means that you will have spent 4160 Mondays suffering. That is a lot of suffering.


Was this you sitting on the bedside Monday morning? Never again!

Here is a guide to surviving this Monday and all the Mondays to come:

Spread out the workload

If you feel that starting the week is a real challenge, remember, you don’t have to do everything on Monday. Some people start the week feeling energized and motivated to get back into a productive routine. But if this is not your case, be kind to yourself and give yourself a smooth start.

It is easy to look at this week’s TO DO-list and be overwhelmed by the tasks ahead. But there are four other days of the working week and you don’t have to do everything on Monday.

This includes the TO DO’s you have outside of work. If you have a plan to eat more healthy and get into a workout routine, then perhaps Monday isn’t the best day to start doing all of these things. Be easy on yourself by making Monday the day when you get to have pizza for lunch or get to skip the workout.

Let your limitations be your liberation. You simply can’t do everything today and you don’t have to. Remember the saying:


Make Monday feel more like Friday

Most of the suffering related to Mondays comes from the automated emotional responses you have when you think about Mondays. You associate Mondays with work, stress, responsibilities, boredom etc.

The way to deal with this is to build positive associations through infusing your Mondays with more fun, freedom and relaxation. Through planning something fun for the evening, something you can look forward to, such as dinner or drinks with friends, going to the cinema or getting a massage, you start replacing the negative associations with positive ones.

Remember: This too, shall pass

When you are at home Sunday evening or waking up Monday morning, feeling overwhelmed by the Monday blues, remember that the feeling passed before and it will pass again. Most of the time, the Monday blues is experienced in anticipation of going to work and actually disappears when you start working.  Remind youself of all the times when you have felt this way before and how it disappeared after 20 minutes in the office.

Get enough sleep and eat breakfast

This sounds like a no brainer. But surprisingly many people go to bed way too late Sunday evening, setting themselves up for failure Monday morning. Without proper sleep everything seems worse than it actually is.

Even if you don’t believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it is important enough. Again, Monday doesn’t have to be the day you completely change your diet. But make sure you eat something to kickstart your brain and get it out of Zombie mode.

Learn from your Monday mistakes

“Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.”

If you are experiencing feelings of unhappiness every time Monday arrives, why are you not doing anything to change it? Analyse what went wrong last Monday or all the other Mondays. Lack of sleep? Woke up too late? Missed the bus? Out of coffee? No breakfast? No umbrella? 

These kinds of things have terrible implications for your state of mind, but can easily be avoided through preparation. 

See this as a wake-up call (if all else fails)

If you are doing everything described above and have no positive results, then you may need to see it as a wake up call, a sign that you are fundamentally unhappy about your work. If this is the case, then it is time to start analyzing what it is you dislike about your job and what else you would like to do if you can’t make the necessary changes at your current workplace. 

Hopefully you found the Monday Survival Guide useful. Life has too few days to spend 4160 of them suffering!

How to best manage a team: 8 rules for effective teamwork

How to best manage a team: 8 rules for effective teamwork

The value of teamwork is both vastly underestimated and dramatically overstated. That people should be working in teams is taken for granted. Working in teams is constantly promoted, yet it is one of the most hated forms of working among employees.

The reason people hate teamwork is because neither managers nor team members know how to work effectively in teams. Unfortunately, great team management is a rare skill.

Do you want to know how to best manage a team?

Here are 8 rules for effective teamwork:

1. Should you be working in teams?

Ask yourselves if teamwork is the best approach to the problem at hand. Working in teams is not optimal for all types of projects or tasks – in some cases individuals should be working on their own. Teamwork is suitable when the value the team delivers is greater than the sum of its parts. If this is not the case, you should not be working in teams. In teams, you are supposed to leverage the fact that you are several people.

2. Make sure everyone knows who is on the team

You need to clearly define who is on the team and who is not. This might almost seem too obvious, but the truth is that even most executives cannot correctly identify who is on their team. If you don’t know who is on the team then you cannot possibly know what to expect from whom, let alone work well together. 

3. Define a team purpose

Every team needs a purpose. There must be a reason why you are working together in a team. This purpose should be shared by everyone on the team and the members should help define it. Partaking in shaping the common purpose gives each team member a sense of ownership, fuelling their motivation and their will to perform.

4. Set specific and explicit performance goals

You need to set specific and explicit performance goals that derive from, and are aligned with, the team’s common purpose. Otherwise you have no way of knowing whether or not the team has achieved what it set out to do. You need to set both team goals and individual goals. Remember, what gets measured gets done. If the goals are not specific and explicit, you are making it easier for team members to avoid accountability.

5. Team members with complementary skill sets

In great teams, members’ skills complement each other. If you need a specific set of skills for your team, everyone on the team does not need to possess all those skills. Remember, teams are supposed to leverage the strengths of the individual team members, and by doing so also overcome individual weaknesses.

6. Agreement on how the work gets done

There needs to be an agreement on how team members are expected to work. This concerns practicalities such as work schedules, expected deliverables and rules for decision-making.

 7. Provide favourable conditions

Facing challenges is inherent to teamwork. As a leader you need to rid your team of unnecessary hindrances and provide the best possible conditions for overcoming these challenges. You need to put structures in place that ensure effective and efficient teamwork. For teams, this typically means creating structures and processes for great communication and coordination.

8. Assign clear roles and responsibilites

There should be no confusion about where one person’s responsibility ends and another’s begin. If there are areas or situations in which you need greater flexibility, this should be clearly decided on. If your team members are flexible enough to cover for each other – that’s great. But don’t let that be an excuse for a poor assignment of roles and responsibilities

Make use of these 8 rules for effective teamwork and witness the improved performance of your team and the increased happiness of your team members.

Mindfulness at work: benefits of meditation for your performance

Mindfulness at work: benefits of meditation for your performance

Mindfulness and meditation make you a better manager. Research on mindfulness at work shows how meditation can boost your career and increase your performance and that of your business.

Mindfulness is the conscious, non-judgemental awareness of the emotions, thoughts and sensations experienced in the present moment.

Too many people consider mindfulness to be little more than a fad, but if you don’t already practice meditation or mindful leadership you are making a serious mistake.

This is how mindfulness makes you a better manager

Recently published research on the effects of mindfulness shows that managers who meditate make better decisions. The long-term effects of meditation on managers’ behaviors included:

Strategic thinking: More time spent on strategic thinking.

Focus on root causes: Greater focus on root causes rather than symptoms.

Openness and honesty: More open and honest relationships with colleagues.

These benefits of mindfulness are impressive. If you previously ruled out mindfulness techniques from your managerial toolbox, these points should make you think again. What kind of professional (in his or her right mind) would reject a method that not only improves your general well-being but also makes you a better manager and leader?

However, if the above points for some reason weren’t enough…

Here are 6 more ways in which mindfulness makes you a better leader:

Stress management

Mindfulness improves your stress management abilities. On a general level, it reduces stress and anxiety, making you feel more calm and relaxed, but it also makes you better equipped to handle particularly stressful situations so that they don’t overwhelm you. Coping with stress is key to meet and exceed the expectations of today’s demanding business world and it is a must for any professional who wishes to be in it for the long run.

Positive thinking

Mindfulness makes you think more positively because the constant chatter in your mind is reduced and silenced, so you can avoid getting caught in downward spirals of negative thinking. Through being able to distance yourself from your thoughts you can gain new and positive perspectives. New perspectives and positive thinking make you a better problem-solver and increases your resilience in the face of adversity.

Focus and concentration

Mindfulness strengthens your ability to concentrate. In the modern world, you are constantly fed with information and distractions, often through digital media, so your attention-span is getting shorter. Unfortunately, interruptions are a costly, but very common, source of inefficiencies. Once interrupted, it takes an average of 23 minutes for you to get back to your task. The ability to fend off distractions and focus your full attention on one task for an extended period of time is a must-have for your performance.

Better sleep

Mindfulness improves your sleep because it helpts you to let go of the worries of the day. Problems tend to be blown out of proportion during the small hours of the night, but mindfulness helps you put them back into perspective. There is probably no need to tell you that you can’t function normally without proper sleep, much less perform at your best.


Mindfulness helps you understand yourself more clearly. If anything, great managers need to be self-aware. Self-awareness is needed to identify and understand strengths and weaknesses in oneself. You also need self-awareness for self-regulation and to interact appropriately with others, be it your boss, customer or subordinate.

Complex thinking

Mindfulness works as a reboot for your system. Every time you meditate you clear your system of distracting thoughts that cloud your mind and slow down your thinking. Through mindfulness you free more awareness and attention to focus on performing complex thinking.

Still not convinced that you should practice mindfulness? Then you should:

Learn about the importance of mindfulness from the best

Mindfulness is a natural practice at Google. The company has incorporated mindfulness practices because it knows that the well-being and performance of their employees ultimately affects the performance of the company. Thousands of Googlers attend one of the company’s many courses on mindfulness and meditation each year. Google’s Search Inside Yourself program, launched by spiritual guru and Googler Chade Meng-Tan in 2007, is the most famous one and is frequently cited among employees as both a personal and professional life-changer.

At this point, there should be no doubt in your mind that you should start practicing mindfulness and meditation. What are you waiting for?

The best way to take notes: 10 steps to note-taking mastery

The best way to take notes: 10 steps to note-taking mastery

Forget all the advanced note-taking techniques out there. Here is the only guide you will ever need to master the art of note-taking.

Are you writing down every word that is said in class? Or maybe you don’t take any notes at all? Note-taking is an art and can make the difference between and average student and an A student.

Do you want to become a note-taking master? Do you want to know the best way to take notes?

This is all you need to know about taking notes:

1. Keep it simple

Forget all the advanced note-taking techniques that are out there. Note-taking shouldn’t be so difficult or time-consuming that you cannot focus your attention on what the professor is saying or what is going on in class.

2. Purpose is to categorize

The purpose of note-taking in class is to help you categorize information. We learn through sorting and storing information in our brains into categories. The purpose is NOT to write down every single piece of information you hear – we have books for that (and the internet).

3. Structure is everything

In class, you should always be thinking about how you structure your notes. Through structuring your notes you are helping your brain to categorize the information. This is when information becomes knowledge. Without a structured set of categories in your brain, it is that much more difficult for you to remember details. Your brain needs boxes in which to place the information.

4. Three basic sections

Three sections should be the basic structure for every lecture: An introduction to what the class is about, three to five main points on the content and one take-away point.

5. Use colours (in moderation)

Using colours when you take notes can be very inducive to learning. Colours help people remember, as colours are more richly represented in memory. But don’t overdo it! The point is not to overwhelm your brain with an explosion of colours. If you choose to use colours, then they should be aligned with the structure you have for your notes. Examples of colouring logic can be: by theme, topic, class or week. In this way, the colouring enforces the structure you use and helps your brain categorize the information.

6. Write by hand

When it comes to learning and retaining information, writing by hand is far superior to writing on a laptop. People who take notes on their laptops tend to write down everything exactly as it was said. When you write by hand, you are forced to pay greater attention, be more selective of what you note down and use your own words. This greatly increases both your conceptual understanding and your retention of information.

7. Spaced repetition

You need to look through your notes regularly. Your memory is just like a path in the forest. It grows the more often people walk it (and it grows shut when no one walks there). The number of times you repeat is more important than the time you spend repeating. In other words, take several short trips down memory lane.

8. Review your new notes 

Review the material straight after class and, preferably, again in the evening. Transcribe and clarify if your notes are messy or something is unclear. This need only take a few minutes. By doing this simple trick you save hours, if not days, of studying for your exams.

9. Look through your old notes

By looking through your old notes before every class you not only expose yourself to more repetition but you help build linkages in your brain between different sets of categories. The linkages are important to understand how all the pieces fit together and to see the greater picture.

 10. Add details to your structure

Once you have a structure in place, a structure you know, your brain has boxes of categories in which you can put detailed information. At this stage, you will be amazed with how fast you can learn great heaps of detailed information.